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  2. Activists urge State Duma to protect lands of indigenous peoples in KhMAO from oil producers

Activists urge State Duma to protect lands of indigenous peoples in KhMAO from oil producers

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Representatives of the 'Public Radar' project asked the State Duma to protect the lands of the indigenous people of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (KhMAO) from oil producers. They shared this information with '7x7' on June 7.

On January 24, 2024, the company Surgutneftegas offered the indigenous people of the Surgutsky District of KhMAO compensation for oil extraction on their lands. The company suggested covering their lost profits from selling berries and animal skins, which locals harvest on the territories chosen by the oil producers.

The chairman of the human rights project 'Public Radar' told '7x7' that during a meeting with representatives of Surgutneftegas, KhMAO residents refused the compensation, finding it too low. In March, Surgutneftegas started extracting oil.

Human rights defenders discovered that, according to the law, oil producers are not required to compensate indigenous people who practice traditional trades. This is due to a legislative gap, as the registries of indigenous populations and traditional nature use territories are not synchronized.

"Usually, if families agree [to compensation], oil producers may also provide them with equipment for hunting and living in the north (snowmobiles, boats, gear), but this is a matter of goodwill, not something registered in a contract," explained representatives of 'Public Radar.'

Human rights defenders sent their ideas for amending the current legislation to Oleg Mikhailov, a State Duma deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). They suggest synchronizing the two registers, prohibiting oil producers from calculating compensation based on the price of berries and animal skins, and stopping companies’ operations if they extract oil without prior approval.

On April 29, 2024, journalists reported the death of Sergei Kerimov, the last defender of the lake considered sacred by the Khanty people. He died from cancer. Kerimov opposed Surgutneftegas, which was extracting oil near Lake Imlor. He tried to protect his encampment and had to move over 20 times, following the oil producers’ demands to free the territory.

The activist stood trial three times. In 2017, he was sentenced to community service for threats towards Surgutneftegas, and in 2022 to six months of imprisonment. In December 2022, Kerimov was involved in a conflict with the police, resulting in a criminal case for the use of violence. Sayana Mongush, a journalist from Tuva, wrote that Kerimov’s underage son died in a car accident involving oil producers under the influence of alcohol.


* В материале упомянута организация Общественное объединение W.H.С., деятельность которой запрещена в РФ
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